I love that movie with the adolescent Patrick Dempsey doing the wild ant eater dance! Only it's, "Can't by me love." Well, this summer I'm putting a little spin on it as we are settled in a small town in Alabama at a camp with a big heart for a Huge Savior.
The sad thing is that, as usual, there will be no pictures. I hate that about my blog and yet I do nothing about it! At some point there will be some. I need to check with the CEO to find out what can be posted and what should not be posted...so until then, my words will have to do. This will not satisfy family, I'm sure...but I'm doing the best I can. Onward!!!
For several YEARS Mike has battled with the Spirit as to what he is supposed to be doing and where. We've taken the Perspectives on World Missions course, and that confirmed that we are not headed overseas, we've looked into teaching abroad...still nothing...and then we spoke with a friend about camp ministry. After a few years of struggling I finally said, "Alright, if you could do ANYTHING what would it be?" His response, "I love camp. I'd love to raise our family at camp." Alright, I thought, now we are getting someplace. So, last year we sent out a few applications to camps and again...nothing. So, we moved into our house. You remember my new countertops and the bookshelves. Well, an opportunity popped up for us to spend a summer at camp sort of investigating if this was for us. So, here we are. Our summer adventure at Camp Marannook. I think I can put the name of the camp, in fact, if you are looking for a top-notch camp to send your children to, look no further! So, I wanted to give everyone sort of an update as to what we are doing and what our days look like.
Every day is different, yet they have elements that remain the same. We wake to Secret Worship. That's a time where we read our chapters for the day before we "begin" our day. We are reading through Romans and Acts, all of Psalms and some of the Epistles...I think, I'd have to check my schedule. Then we get everyone ready and head out the door a mile down the road to have breakfast at Manna. We arrive only a few minutes early and the Training Staff trickles in to start their day as well. The Training Staff are college students from as far as Indiana and as close as Auburn who have come here to study the word (over 100 hours total for the summer) and share the gospel through the camping experience. These students are AWESOME! They are intelligent and funny and passionate about knowing Jesus and making Him known. So, we circle up (picture roughly 57 people holding hands on an open air deck) to thank Jesus for our food and the day. After a clap confirming it's time to eat we start through the line. The high school girls, "kitchies" as they are aptly named, provide service with a smile. We eat GOOD! We find our places at our picnic tables and enjoy some sweet food and sweeter fellowship. Roughly 45 minutes into breakfast a deep voice with a charming southern drawl belts out the first line of scripture signaling to everyone to stop their conversation and listen to what Spurgeon has to say from "Morning and Evening" sometimes we read the Word, "On the Rocks" that's straight up! Once the reading is finished we get the plan for the day and within minutes the deck is cleared and everyone is off to their business. Our children find sticks and rocks to play with the other children who are family staff (their Dad is the maintenance director). I might meet with the Kitchen Director to finalize the menu/grocery list, maybe we'll take a walk with our neighbors (the maintenance family) around the lake and hit the low ropes course. Perhaps we'll catch some frogs or tadpoles at "The Rock." Some mornings I leave to grocery shop with sweet, Mrs. B, while a kitchie babysits my children. Either way, we're back at 12:30 to circle up again and to fill our bellies with food while the Spirit nourishes our souls as we talk and share. You see, we have many "traditions" here at Camp and 2 major traditions are, "No gossiping and No complaining." Do you know how pleasant an atmosphere is when those things are not tolerated. Like, seriously, not tolerated. After lunch it looks a little like after breakfast, only naps are pretty strictly enforced. My children are EXHAUSTED and they haven't even had their week of camp yet! I suppose it's all of the fresh air and good food! So, an afternoon of rest, sometimes this is where I grocery shop, and then it's back to Manna (our cafeteria) for dinner. We listen to reading after every meal and no one is excused until it's over. It's INCREDIBLE. Sometimes we might sing a hymn that "wafts" (as Mr. C puts it) up from our heart. It makes my heart so full. So very full. Usually after supper we are ready to head home and call it a day, but maybe we take a trip to the pool first for an evening swim, just the 5 of us. Mike is busy with the Training Staff, learning and growing and watching. Then we come home and shower and the kids head to bed while I start my little (sorta big) task of ordering the food. Mike makes his way home a little after 9:00, we have a little bit of a "debriefing" and it's off to bed. This camp thing is no "walk in the park" or "woods" for that matter! It's FULL!!!
A quick idea of what I'm doing. I am ordering food. It's no different from what any other Mom does, it's just on a much bigger scale! We needed 495 buns! How do you even get that??? We shop from 2 places and then order from one place twice a week that delivers our nosh on a truck. I told Mrs. B last night that I don't remember the last time when I didn't get good at something quickly. This is going to take some time. Everytime my phone rings I think, "Oh dear, what did I forget? What are we missing?" Yesterday the Kitchen Director called and in her super sweet voice, "Mrs. Ali, I was looking at the forks and we have 6 or 7." Me, "Boxes?" KD, "No, forks." With the Saturday picnic to look forward to the children and I loaded up and headed to Kroger. That was after I had forgotten feta and pepperoni earlier. Thankfully I was already out! The Lord has been kind to have me where I needed to be when I get these calls, but I feel frustrated that I'm not perfect at it. Enter my kind Savior. I think it's been a long time since I've really been stretched. I mean, homeschooling 4 people will stretch you, but do you know what I mean? That kind of stretch that comes from the Holy Spirt that confirms you belong to God and He will not allow you to be complacent. The good stretch that causes you to look to Heaven and praise Him for filling in your gaps...for revealing them...for increasing in your weakness. It's a good thing...no, it's a great thing. Each week I am getting a little bit better...but I'm nervous at every meal. I feel like I'm the food police. Last week everyone was pleasantly surprised that swiss cheese showed up. I panicked! Swiss cheese was for the ham quiche...would there be enough? AHHHHH!!!! The ham quiche was today, all 14 of them, and they were delicious and there was plenty of swiss cheese! Tomorrow I'll meet the food truck with Mrs. B to see what we ordered (or what we should have ordered) and hopefully that will help me do this better. I want to give a shout out to Mrs. Barbara and Mr. Charles...have you ever been around people who know Jesus forgave them their sins? Like, really have dwelled on it and have given their lives to responding to His grace? It's a pleasure to struggle to learn something under them because they understand our frailty and help you become what Jesus wants you to become. I still put a ton of pressure on myself, but their gentle leading and guidance excite me to do better...to trust in Jesus to enable me to do my job...and do it for His glory.
So, that's us. We got to go to the library last week. What a refreshing day that was! Our kind neighbor, fellow homeschooler and book lover, loaned us some books when she found out we didn't bring any (Camp has a library, we just haven't made it there yet) so we were THRILLED when the librarian at the local library allowed us to have cards to check out books. I was so very thankful that she didn't run a background check on our ability to return books on time. Or, maybe she did and she's hoping to make some cash for their library while we're here running up fines! This sweet place is a TON different from our library. It's smaller, it's actually in a room of the old Presbyterian Church. It just says, "LIBRARY" out front. They have a counter that they use to count the folks who enter. I don't know why that is so cute to me. We headed home with 30 books and the best part is that our neighbors came over to read with us. God has been kind to provide people that we never thought to ask for, as partners in this summer. Only a few days in, their mom said, "Do your children ask to come over to my house as much as my children ask to come to yours?" It's a fact...God has provided good friends for us for this adventure. He also provided some small "pets" in the form of Chad and Chase, our box turtles. The children built a little pen outside with bricks they found in our yard (scavengers) and it's sort of fun to watch those little guys. We toss fruit out there every now and then. They certainly don't replace Sonny who is romping on the Graham Fam Farm, but they are sort of fun to have.
I think that's about all. That's a long and broad overview of what the Wessner's are doing this summer. Perhaps one day I'll post pictures. Perhaps. If you've got children that need a break from the world and want them to have a Christ centered week...send them our way...we'd love to see some familiar faces! I checked with Charles and Barbara and for 1-4 graders for the week of June 30-July 5th it's not too late and for the week following there is also a bit of room, just not as much. Y'all, these counselors are PRECIOUS! Your children would be so blessed by their time here. We also have camp for 5-7th graders the last 2 weeks in July. I'm telling you, I've watched one group of campers come and go and it truly is a blessing to be in this place. Here is the link again to Camp Marannook.
Oh...our house. Picture an old brick house on a country road with white awnings over the windows...that's our house. We have just what we need and are enjoying our home away from home. I was slightly disappointed at our inability to keep tidy a place that doesn't even have 1/10 of our belongings. I suppose we are the problem and not our house or our stuff...we just aren't a "neat" crowd. Oh well, Jesus loves me of this I am CONVINCED!!! The 3 older kids are bunked together, Mike and I (of course) and Caroline has her own room. A Marannook Miracle is that we were really having a hard time with Caroline in a big bed, so much so that we put her back in the pack n play at home, we brought one with us, set it up, but she wanted to sleep in the PRECIOUS bed provided. She stays in that bed and SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT!!! We are so thankful and are trying to figure out how to sneak the bed home! :) Not really, there's not a single place for it...I do wish we could, though. So, we are doing well. Clearly God has placed us here for such a time as this and as we find our way, we find Him. It's a privilege to be here, to serve and be served as the Spirit ministers to us all calling us to lay it all down, consider it all rubbish that we might know Christ.
May it be so. Amen.